Sarasota, Tampa, & Bradenton Text

We were invited to Chelsea & Adrian’s wedding in Sarasota, which my mother was insistent we attend. They predictably set the date for the middle of the week (Tuesday and Wednesday), as did Audrey & Darren before them, but this time neither Brent or I were working. As our uncles and aunts age, the opportunities to see them come closer to the final ones, too, so it made sense that we were obliged to attend. After some arguing with mom about the logistics, we drove QQ’s car down. On account of going a day early I seized the opportunity to introduce Brent, Mom, and QQ to the Sunday market at the Thai Temple in Tampa on the way. We arrived rather late, but they did still have some final pre-packaged noodle bowls which we were allowed to eat on site (though all the normal vegetable and food stalls were not open). They enjoyed the visit. Mom was surprised by its existence and by the food as it was clearly Chinese to her with the inclusion of 叉燒/หมูแดง.

Qianqian and I stayed in an AirBnb with Uncle Walter’s family in Bradenton, as the only affordable remaining AirBnB happened to have both dogs and cats on the premises. We relaxed at Uncle Walter’s AirBnB for a little while after arriving, chatting with Uncle Walter, Auntie Stephanie, and Audrey, then getting a mountain of tacos from the nearby taco truck. Qianqian decided to work through Monday while the Chow family met up in Sarasota. I was keen on going to the Ringling museum again, especially as it was free admission for that day. Once again I saw very little of the museum. While I skipped through the left gallery that I’d visited prior, the temporary exhibits on photography and contemporary art held my interest for the entirety of my time there. The thick bullshit juxtaposed with high quality thought-provoking art was particularly hilarious, and evident enough that Brent picked up on this lack of curatorial self-awareness immediately as well.

Only upon re-entering the museum did I briefly spend some time with the massive painting of the court of Emperor Justinian by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, after which we drove back to the annoyingly distant Bradenton for a very short respite. We then drove back down to Sarasota (unfathomable planning decisions made by this family) for dinner at an Indian restaurant with QQ in tow, meeting Alex in Sarasota as well.

The next day was the wedding ceremony itself. I predictably failed to fit into my suit pants, especially after a massive cuban meal, and wore my slacks with the suit instead. Had I remembered my kandura, it would have made it a much easier decision. The wedding went rather predictably – ceremony and reception at a pretty estate, American ceremony with walking up an aisle, exchanges of rings and vows, mediocre butter-filled food with ego-stroking toasts, awkward dance floor to follow. The officiants comments exemplified the evening and the attendees, constantly self congratulatory about how difficult med school is and how smart and special and deserving they all are. One toast typified the celebration of hilarious “achievements” with rather a lot of embellishment, classifying the very trivial four mile trail in Yosemite as a difficult hike. It’s a paved road.

Meeting up with Uncle Joseph and Auntie Julia was a mixed bag. It was, of course, nice to see them and talk with them, now as adults. Uncle Joseph has become rather strident in his delivery of his opinions on finance, the world state, and politics, however. The most annoying bit being that generally speaking he’s correct on what he wants to proselytize, but the delivery was excrutiating and patronizing. In contrast, Audrey, still a quintessential California girl through and through, has grown into quite the reasonable adult, and her husband, despite his rather basic worldview (I did Germany! Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein, Berlin, Auschwitz!) seems a rather pleasant chap. Before driving back to Gainesville, we met up with the wedding guests at a brunch at C’est La Vie, unbelievably pronounced as Sest Layvee by Adrian in that obnoxiously intentional ignorance prevalent among a certain subset of Americans. Adrian’s host-father from Denmark’s similarly smug opinions about education and the superiority of Europe was grating, though commiserating with Chelsea’s mother about education in the States was quite enjoyable, at least.

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